When I first heard of A New Leaf, I didn’t give it a second thought. Until I saw that Kim Myung Min is headlining it. That was it, I had to watch it. I cannot turn away from a drama with Kim Myung Min; he’s one of those actors that elevate the work that he’s in. Even if it’s a law drama. What better person to subvert my expectations?
The first two episodes established the characters of our two mains. Kim Myung Min is the ruthless corporate lawyer Kim Seok Joo, and Park Min Young is the intern at his law firm, Lee Ji Yoon. Kim Sang Joong is the owner of the firm, Cha Young Woo. Seok Joo defends a Japanese corporation that is being sued by old labourers from the time of the Japanese occupation. It’s obviously a case that involves national honour and emotions run high during the case, but Seok Joo is unfazed.
Our two leads meet at her friend’s wedding, where Ji Yoon’s meet-cute with another man (played by Jin Yi Han from Empress Ki, woot!) is cut short. The bride panics when she sees Seok Joo, and begs Ji Yoon to get him away from the wedding no matter what. Ji Yoon downs a drink drugged by the bride which was meant for Seok Joo, so she ends up dragging him away while she’s inebriated. She wakes up in her home, thinking they had a one-night-stand.
When she discovers that he’s the hotshot lawyer at the firm she just joined, she’s mortified. However, while discussing a case, she inadvertently tells Seok Joo and a whole room of coworkers and clients about the watch he left at her place, unaware that she was on speaker phone. This leads to both of them being the topic of hot gossip in the firm. She’s initially oblivious to what she’s done, and blames him for spreading the word. So her embarrassment is doubled when he tells her to stop acting like the victim in the situation, since she was the one who embarrassed him in front of the clients.
Seok Joo gets roped in to defend a chaebol’s son in a sexual assault case. He initially refuses, because criminal cases are not his specialty. The client insists on using him, though, so CEO Cha puts him in charge anyway, but assigns an experienced team to back him. Ji Yoon also joins Seok Joo’s team, having contributed useful information for another case he was working on. At least he acknowledges her work, even if she’s a huge pain in terms of his image.
The chaebol heir they are defending is a right scumbag, which only serves to show us what kind of a firm Seok Joo works in. He admits to raping the woman, but wants to settle out of court. The whole case gets on my nerves, urgh. The prosecutor working on the case is Lee Sun Hee, who is a formidable rival. She exchanges barbs with Seok Joo before going to court, and it seems that they are familiar with one another. And the sparks between them is much better than with him and Ji Yoon. The woman suing the chaebol, Hae Ryung gets a dressing down in court by Seok Joo, who paints her as a loose woman desperate for money. I guess she isn’t an angel, but rape is still undeserved. The case takes a turn when her current boyfriend testifies that the bruises on her face are caused by him hitting her and not the chaebol heir. Of course, his change in testimony is thanks to a fat bribe.
Ji Yoon feels sorry for Hae Ryung, but it would seem she doesn’t know about the bribe. She visits Hae Ryung after she is hospitalised for attempting suicide, and manages to get a list of demands to take to their client. Seok Joo gets the job done again, but later on, the chaebol heir is found dead. The prime suspect is Hae Ryung, as she was the last person to see him alive, and the media frenzy from the case leads to speculation that it was a crime of passion. Seok Joo seems genuinely shocked to hear about it, and has to work to maintain his composure as he helps his colleagues persuade a client to stay with the firm.
Seok Joo doesn’t seem like the emotional type, and seems to love his dog more than his father. In episode 2, he goes home to attend a memorial for his mother’s death anniversary. He resents his father for placing his principles above everything else, leaving his mother to die alone. His relationship with his sister is slightly better, as his appearance at the wedding in first episode was for her. Ji Yoon’s friend was having an affair with his brother-in-law, but he swears that the affair has ended, and Ji Yoon’s friend getting married to someone else is the proof that she has moved on.
The second episode ends with Seok Joo walking down a dark alley after attending the chaebol heir’s funeral. A motorcyclist zooms past him and knocks him aside. He falls underneath a scaffolding, which collapses on him. I believe amnesia should come next. Yay! I’ve never been this excited for an amnesia trope, but there you go.